There has been a nationwide movement towards focusing on treatment instead of incarceration for persons accused of crimes and suffering from mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction. This has resulted in diversionary programs such as treatment courts which monitor defendants’ progress and reward completion of the program with reduced sentences. Berks County has 4 treatment courts (Mental Health, Drug, DUI and Veteran's) as well as an additional diversionary program for second-offense DUI (STOP). Here is some information about each of these diversionary programs.

Drug Treatment Court
The goal of the Berks County Drug Treatment Court is to address the underlying addiction which led to the commission of the crime. The program is split into 4 phases and takes, at a minimum, 18 months to complete. Participants must submit to drug tests, comply with treatment requirements, check-in with probation officers and attend Drug Treatment Court meetings. Participants must, in general, be Berks County residents and non-violent offenders. Typically, participants have been charged with offenses that call for sentences of state incarceration. Completion of the Berks County Drug Treatment Court program can lead to a probationary sentence instead of a jail sentence. In certain cases, completion of the Drug Treatment Court can lead to a complete dismissal of the charges. Offenders who have been charged with probation or parole violations may also be eligible for the program. The Drug Treatment Court program is very strict and mistakes can lead to the denial of an application or removal from the program. It's important that you have a knowledgeable Berks County criminal attorney on your side to help you with the process.

STOP and DUI Treatment Court
If you've been charged with a first-offense DUI, then you may be eligible for the ARD program which you can read more about here. But what happens if you’ve been charged with a second-offense DUI or even a third or subsequent offense? Are there programs available in Berks County? Yes. There are two programs that are available in Berks County. Both are established by statute meaning that they are statewide programs. The first is the Second Time Offender Program (STOP) and the other is DUI Treatment Court. Both programs are run by the Berks County Adult Probation Office.

The STOP program is for those who have been charged which a second-offense DUI within 10 years. Admission into the program is not guaranteed and all applicants are screened and approved or denied. Most participants have been charged with a highest rate DUI which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days of incarceration, but is also available for those who have been charged with a high rate DUI and are facing a 30 days mandatory minimum sentence. The STOP program allows participants to complete 85 days of an inpatient treatment program or house arrest in lieu of jail time. Participants will still serve some amount of jail time, but it will be significantly less than the mandatory minimum sentence. Prior to sentencing, program participants must complete treatment requirements and maintain contact with the probation office. Applications for this program MUST be made within 3 days of your preliminary hearing.

Berks County DUI Treatment Court is generally for those who have been charged with a third or subsequent DUI within 10 years. Program participants have usually been charged with a highest rate DUI and are facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year of incarceration. The purpose of DUI Treatment court is to allow an offender to participate in court-supervised treatment rather than incarceration. DUI Treatment Court participants are evaluated and a treatment plan is determined. DUI Treatment Court is a multi-phase program and participants graduate to each new level as they complete their requirements. The program takes at least 18 months to complete. All participants are required to attend DUI Treatment Court meetings. Berks County DUI Treatment Court participants will still do some amount of incarceration and will need to complete a period of electronic monitoring (house arrest).

Requirements for applying and completing the Berks County STOP program and DUI Treatment Court are very strict so it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable Berks County DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Veteran's Court
If you are a veteran who has been charged with a crime and suffers from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, drug addiction or mental illness as a result of your service, you may be eligible for the Berks County Veteran's Treatment Court. The goal of the Berks County Veteran's Court is to provide veterans with an alternative to incarceration while working on the underlying conditions which have led to the criminal conduct. There are requirements for admission such as honorable discharge and being a combat veteran. Each case is evaluated by the Veteran's Court team for admission. The Veteran's Health Administration is also involved in the administration of the Berks County Veteran's Court. The Veteran's Court program last 12-22 months and participants move through 4 phases of treatment. Most phases require attendance at bi-weekly Veteran's Treatment Court meetings. All phases require sobriety, drug testing, attendance at VA appointments and counseling.

There are strict admissions guidelines for Veteran's Court and strict compliance with the program is required of participants. It's important that you are represented by an attorney who has experience with the process. Our criminal attorneys have helped many clients gain admission to Veteran's Court. These clients have been charged with a variety of crimes and will receive treatment rather than a jail sentence if they successfully complete the program.

Mental Health Treatment Court
Berks County Mental Health Court is a sentencing alternative for those who have been charged with a crime and who suffer from mental illness. In Berks County, Mental Health Court is a program which defendants can apply for. The goal of the program is to reduce incarceration by monitoring treatment compliance. Applicants must be able to document their mental illness. Mental Health Court typically lasts 1 year and is divided into 4, 90 day phases. Participants must attend weekly or bi-weekly Treatment Court sessions and comply with treatment and medication recommendations. Treatment may include inpatient and/or outpatient programs. Berks County Mental Health Treatment Court participants are also required to work with a Service Access Management (SAM) caseworker. Mental Health Court is also available for those who have a dual-diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse. Admission requirements are strict so if you think that you may be eligible for Mental Health Treatment Court, contact our office and we'll help you start the application process.

Our Berks County criminal attorneys have years of experience working with Treatment Court applicants for Mental Health Treatment Court, STOP/DUI Treatment Court, Drug Treatment Court and Veteran's Court. Contact our office today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com and we'l help you get started.